We use our smartphones every day at all hours. The use of social networks and the number of users has increased considerably in recent years. In UK alone, 92% of people have a social media account. Facebook, despite a decrease in the presence of younger people, “disturbed” by the presence of too many adults, remains the most popular social network, followed by Instagram and YouTube.But why do we devote a big part of our time to social networks? Some say that they are hours lost. But is it really so? Or are there precise reasons that actually push us to scroll the screen over and over again during the day? Here are the top reasons why we use social media.
1. We want to find out everybody’s business.
Keeping in touch has been the main reason why people have been using social media for several years, but now users are simply scanning what their friends are doing, rather than being actively involved in conversations. In fact, users use social media, and particularly Instagram, to snoop around in other people’s lives and not miss anything that happens to their friends and acquaintances. On a psychological level, being in contact with people that we know more or less deeply in offline life, has the function of increasing control over their identity, over what they choose to express about themselves and in what way. Perhaps it is not out of place to hypothesize that, to a large extent, the success of social networks is precisely in these dynamics of social control in which we observe others while looking at ourselves, making a comparison between identities. Knowing other people’s personalities provides the elements to understand one’s own and implement control strategies to express it in relation to others.
2. We want to inform our-self.
Facebook and Twitter are the most used channels to inform and keep up to date on what’s happening in the world without having to read newspapers or watch the news. Especially young people prefer to catch up with the latest news through social platforms and share information in real-time with their friends.
3. We want to occupy our time.
While a few years ago the average user would have probably filled his free time chatting with friends, now they are more likely to look for something fun. YouTube turns out to be the preferred channel to get distracted and find new stimuli and ideas. Social media allows us to enter a parallel world where we can distract our-self and spend a few hours freeing our mind and entertaining our-self.
4. We want to keep up with the times.
Many of us probably joined one social platform or another simply because that is what our friends were doing. It wasn’t necessarily because we wanted to be actively involved; we just felt the need to integrate with others and so we created a social profile to follow the crowd.
5. We want to increase our self-esteem and feel less lonely.
It has been shown that people with low self-esteem tend to use social media more to improve their image and self-esteem. Feedback (likes and comments) received from friends online can increase self-esteem and psychological well-being. Not only that, thoughts, opinions, songs and photos are shared for a sense of loneliness that is linked to a need to find someone who “likes” us. Every thumbs up or every heart automatically let us feel less lonely and more considered.
6. We want to have a laugh.
After a long, hard day at work or school, everyone needs to relax. Just watch how fast memes and funny videos go viral and you can see how important it is to provide some humour in the content. That’s why people who post funny content generally have a large number of followers. Having a laugh is the best way to unwind and get rid of negative emotions.
7. We want to express ourselves.
That’s self-explanatory. Social networks are the place where we publish photos and videos of our pets, the countries we travel to, the food we love, our hobbies and ourselves to express who we are and let people get to know us deeper.
8. We want to escape from reality.
It can sound strange but think about it. When we look at someone’s photos or read posts, we can forget about time and our problems. Sometimes, it helps, but sometimes it can do more damage, because everything looks so perfect there, and our real life is not. For some people, it can be to come back to reality. Also, in social media, you can be a different person and have different virtual life.
9. We want to meet new people.
Social media is a wonderful place to meet new people with common interests and a growing number of users have said that this is where they met their current partner. With the arrival of the Internet around the world, many have said that it’s nice to waste time with others who will probably never become a serious romantic interest. It is simply fun to meet and talk with new people, wherever they are.
10. We want to do some online shopping.
For several consecutive years, online shopping habits have remained unchanged, confirming a deep predisposition of most people to buy products and services through e-commerce (which not surprisingly becomes more and more pervasive via social media, recently it is also possible to buy through Instagram stories without leaving the app). The main channels to find out before clicking “buy” are search engines and online sales sites and also review sites and specialized forums. Emerging channels such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are mainly used by “addicted” users, those who have more than seven social profiles.
These were general reasons why we use social media. Obviously, each platform is used for specific purposes. Instagram, the social network dedicated to photos, where food and fashion reign, remains the reference channel to follow celebrities, while YouTube and Tik Tok are the kingdoms of digital entertainment. This year, however, Facebook is confirmed as the preferred social network for a variety of purposes. In fact, it is a platform where you can find content of all kinds.
What are the reasons why you and your language exchange friends use social media? What is your favourite social network and how often do you use it per day? Let us know in the comment section below!
Written by: Martina Sassi, Staff Writer